I was in Vegas this week for CES (with 200,000 of my closest friends) and I couldn’t resist staying the weekend for some climbing. So I called my friend Larry and we agreed to head to Red Rock. Larry has been climbing at Red Rock for over 20 years and he likes to do first ascents, so an outing with him usually involves at least as much exploring as climbing.
True to form, Larry suggested that we check out an undeveloped area on Mount Wilson, an enormous formation that rises 3,500 feet above the desert floor. We’d be climbing on the southeast face, which would provide plenty of sunshine to take the chill out of a January morning. After a couple hours of hiking, scrambling, and bushwhacking to check out various route options, we decided to go with the most obvious line, a difficult-looking corner with a wide crack. Larry led the first pitch, avoiding the intimidating squeeze chimney by climbing a face and zig-zagging cracks on the left wall. I led the second pitch, which proved to be difficult and runout on marginal rock. The crux move turned out to be the exit move and unfortunately I didn’t have any big gear left to protect it. I took a quick look down at my last protection 15 feet below my feet and fired the move. It was definitely one of those situations where falling is not an option. There was a bolted anchor at the end of the pitch, so we obviously weren’t the first to tackle the line. Larry, who is generally regarded as the unofficial historian of Red Rock, thinks the route was put up by Paul Van Betten, a well-known local climber.
We did a scary third pitch up a steep crack system with poor rock quality and decided to call it a day. We agreed that the route was the opposite of classic — zero stars!
Larry needed to get home early, so we decided to do some cragging in Calico Basin. This area is a small outcrop compared to the larger canyons in Red Rock but it contains hundreds of quality routes. We did five:
- Classic Corner: A long corner with interesting climbing. As the name implies, it’s a quality route.
- Badger’s Buttress: Easy but exposed moves on an arete. Not really worth doing.
- Welcome to N.I.M.B.Y.: Good bolted face route.
- Attack Dogs: Bolted route with a distinct crux (see pic at the top of this post). Being tall helps on this one.
- Valentine’s Day: To finish the day, we hiked over to the Moderate Mecca area to do this short, but high quality corner.